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Since I last posted, the Ricketts family took over ownership of our beloved Chicago Cubs. Love their stance on looking at the Cubs from their owner seats the same way they would have if they still owned bleacher seats. Someone like that will hopefully help convince them to put a little more money into a deal here and there than they may have done otherwise if they didn’t have an emotional attachment to the team. On the flip side, hopefully they have plenty of people helping them deal with their heads when necessary and not always their hearts. Need to make sure the deals they make are strategically sound business wise and baseball wise.
That said, I think Wells got ripped off and should be the NL ROY. (See what I mean about making decisions with your heart and not your head?) Still, Wells had a great year, kept the Cubs in the thick of the NL Central and wild card berth races, longer than they could’ve hoped for without him. No one expected to need such a contribution from Wells this year but we did. With his help, we hung in there through the middle of September and kept things interesting. Interesting doesn’t win you hardware though. Numbers and results do. That right there is the problem.
Cubs fans all over are counting down the days until Spring Training kicks off in 2010. Until then, I’m going to try and interview as many as I can and post the interviews here, on Prose and Ivy.
Why are the Cubs your favorite team?
to listen to Cubs games on the radio with her grandfather (that would be my
great-grandfather for those of you keeping score at home). So I like to
refer to myself as a fourth generation Cubs fan. And, growing up, my Mom
always had Cubs games on TV during the summer so, again, like many others,
WGN played a huge role in my Cubs fandom. I used to get so excited watching
the games that I couldn’t even finish watching them – I’d have to run out to
the garage, grab my glove and a tennis ball, and spend the remainder of the
game bouncing the ball off our garage, pretending I was a Cubs player (or
actually the whole team, come to think of it). Seeing as how this was the
mid- to late-70s, I wasn’t exactly missing out on too many
Favorite Cubs memory:
It’s hard to pick just one. Maybe walking into Wrigley Field for the first
time as a kid. Seeing the brilliantly green grass and legendary ivy explode
before my eyes as I reached that top step…wow…there’s nothing like it.
More recently, it might be watching Jim Edmonds catch the final out in the
division-clinching game last year. I really felt like that team was the One.
They had it all: Something old (Lou), something new (Kosuke), something
borrowed (Edmonds), something blue (er, well, I guess everything was blue).
Fukudome’s Wrigley debut is another favorite. Oh, and Kerry Wood homering in
the ’03 NLCS. For a brief moment, it felt like the magic was back. Sadly, it
was not. As you can see, I could go on.
Favorite current Cub:
Again, it’s hard to choose. I suppose the obvious answer is Derrek Lee.
He’s a player I have enormous respect for, both on and off the field. I was
really, really happy to see him prove all the naysayers wrong this season.
Among the pitchers, I’d probably pick Ryan Dempster. I’ve happened to attend
one of his starts in each of the last two years and he’s won both games. He
may not be the best pitcher in terms of stuff or results, but I appreciate
all he’s done for the Cubs since he arrived here. (And, yeah, I know he’s
getting paid handsomely for it.) He also seems like a really smart and,
obviously, funny guy – and I admire that. I’ve also always been a big Sean
Marshall fan, too. Not sure why – maybe it’s because I watched his debut in
’06 vs. the Cards on TV and was really rooting for him. Like Demp, he’s a
guy who’s gone out and done whatever the team has asked in a really gutsy
way. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Randy Wells, who was among the
brightest of bright spots in a very frustrating ’09 season. Ted Lilly is a
total badass. He scares me – in a good way. Big Z is the man…I actually
had a dream I was hanging out with him the other night. Seriously. Once
again, as you can see, I’m not very good at picking only one favorite.
Favorite all-time Cub:
Well, growing up, my favorite Cub was Bill Madlock. So maybe I’ll just
stick with that. I suppose I won’t truly know my all-time favorite Cub until
I’m about to take my seat in those Great Bleachers in the Sky.
Your dream starting Chicago Cub line up would be?
How would you celebrate a Cubs championship?
Ha, any way I could. I don’t get to watch too many of the games socially,
so I’d probably be alone when it happened – jumping up and down, screaming
silently (to not wake up my wife and daughter) and scaring the hell out of
Most feared opposing batter?
Well, the obvious answer is Albert Pujols, isn’t it? But there’s a really
easy way to lessen that fear: Don’t pitch to him! It drove me crazy how
often the Cubs did that with an open base this season. Joe Torre had the
right idea in the NLDS. Let’s see, who else? The Diamondbacks’ Chris Young
is an awful hitter who always seems to put one in the seats vs. the Cubs. I
have a feeling the Reds’ Joey Votto is going to be a thorn in our side for
some time. On the bright side, I have to believe the Astros’ Carlos Lee is
nearing retirement. Let’s see, what other egregious Cubs killers can I throw
in here? Prince Fielder: Monster. I wish the Brewers would trade him to the
AL for some pitching and get it over with. I’m not exactly thrilled when
googly-eyed Ryan Braun comes to the plate either. I think that about covers
the division. Oh, wait…I forgot the Pirates. Um, yeah, Andrew McCutchen -
Most feared opposing pitcher?
Oh, that’s easy. Doug freakin’ Davis. Basically, any pitcher that throws in
slow motion is going to shut us down. Dan Haren, check. Jamie Moyer, check.
On a more serious note, Tim Lincecum is probably my favorite non-Cubs
pitcher. He’s a lot of fun to watch – not against the Cubs, of course,
though I feel like they handled him pretty well this year. If I recall
correctly, we almost won the game he pitched at Wrigley and then Big Z
outpitched him in San Fran at season’s end. That was a great game. And then
naturally you have the two-headed monster at the top of the Cardinals
rotation now. On the bright side, I do think Jim Hendry deserves some credit
for putting together some decent starting staffs since the Great Rotation
Collapse of ’06. (Where have you gone, Juan Mateo?)
stretch or call a half inning on WGN. Which would you rather do and why?
I’ll take the singing gig, thanks. I’ll leave the game-calling to the pros,
though I wouldn’t mind tossing in the odd Santo-esque “Geez!” and “Yes,
sir!” if I could.
One thing you would change about Wrigley Field?
Hm, I dunno…move it closer to where I live? I do know it needs upgrades.
I’m going to say they need to get that Triangle Building thing done. As a
fan attending a game for three or four hours, I can live with some of the
antiquated aspects of Wrigley. I’d rather the players have decent batting
cages and the front office have the facilities they need to work
effectively, expand the scouting department, and put together well-rounded,
consistently competitive baseball teams.
One thing you would change about the game of baseball?
Well, to make a topical reference, I think I’m in favor of expanding
instant replay to some limited extent. I understand the concerns about
drawing out the games, but I think there’s got to be some middle ground
between reviewing every strike call and dribbler down the line and the
current “home runs only” policy. One interesting idea I read was giving each
team a limited number of “replay calls” a game and then letting managers
factor it into their game strategy. Honestly, even if expanded, I don’t
think instant replay would come up all that often. But when I see some of
these calls being made in the playoffs…sheesh…something needs to be
living or dead. Who would you invite and why?
Well, the site of Rogers Hornsby’s shambling corpse sidling up to the
dinner table might put me off my salad, but I’ll play along. Um, how ’bout
two of each: Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano on the breathing side and
Orval Overall (because I like his name) and Ken Hubbs (because his is such a
tragic story- in a rock star kinda way).
Do you believe the Cubs are cursed? Yes or no and why?
No, I do not think the Cubs are cursed. And let me just go on record as
saying we Cubs fans could do ourselves a big favor by ignoring this topic to
fullest extent possible. A curse is a shallow, superstitious excuse for
what’s gone wrong with this team over the decades. If this team marshalls
its considerable financial resources; puts savvy, 21st century management
and scouting in place; and starts fielding competitve teams on a regular
basis, a championship will come. I believe that.
Soto back on track? Trading Bradley? Landing a new leadoff man?
Well, I’ll take the easiest question first: The Cubs don’t need a leadoff
man – especially an overpaid one in his 30s. (Hi, Chone Figgins!) There’s
too much emphasis on speed when looking at leadoff guys. I look at OBP and
PPA (pitches per plate appearance), and Kosuke Fukudome fulfills both those
categories quite nicely. Trading Bradley is probably the first step toward
putting the 2010 team in a position to succeed, if only because he’ll be a
huge distraction if he’s not gone by the time spring training rolls around.
I’m not a Bradley hater – I actually think he’s an immesely talented
baseball player. But his situation has become more of an employment issu
than a baseball one. Both sides need to part ways and move on. It’s a shame
because the team could really use his OBP at the top of the lineup (at the
very least). It’s also a shame because he’s worsened the Cubs
already-precarious financial situation. In any case, to answer your
question, getting Soriano back on track is probably the most vital thing. A
team can’t lose that much production from its starting left fielder without
suffering mightily. Geo is important, too, but he’s a catcher – and still a
relatively young player – so it’s a little more reasonable to expect a
little less from him than his glorious rookie season gave us. He still
obviously needs to hit better and stay healthy.
The Cubs have just won the World Series and you have been given the
assignment of writing the lead story, covering this moment in baseball
history. Come up with 5 of the most creative headlines you can to kick off
1) CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! 2) Cubs quench century-plus drought 3) HEY
HEY HOLY MACKERAL NO DOUBT ABOUT IT 4) Cubs crush Royals, win World
Series (hey, it could happen), 5) Dewey defeats Truman!
You have 30 seconds to convince Hendry to either keep or trade Milton
Bradley. He will listen to you if your argument is convincing enough. What
do you say to him…and if it’s trade…who would you trade him for?
Jimbo, buddy, dude…can we build one of those “Men in Black” laser things
that makes everyone completely forget what they just saw? If so, let’s do it
and obliterate the memories of every Cubs player, coach, fan and media
member and give Milton another shot. What? You never saw “Men in Black”?
Well, that’s a shame…it’s pretty entertaining. Holds up rather well.
Anyway, how’s about blowing in a call to Dombrowski in Detroit and see
whether we can con him into giving us Curtis Granderson. Maybe we could take
Dontrelle Willis contract as well and turn him into a set-up guy. And if
that doesn’t work…hell, I don’t know…just get Rowand from the Giants. He
was a pretty good hitter when he wasn’t playing in a pitcher’s park. And
we’ll probably get a lot of free publicity when he explodes like a
cantaloupe running into the centerfield wall at Wrigley.
You are the hopeful new owner of the Chicago Cubs. The last thing standing
in the way of the deal getting done is you must decide one thing to change
at Wrigley Field. Have to. Would you either take away the ivy on the wall,
update the scoreboard to an giant HD screen, or change the outer marquee?
Those are my options? Geez. Um…I guess I’d change the marquee – put it in
a museum somewhere maybe. Or, better yet, my garage. You can’t touch the ivy
and you’d be putting guys out of work by replacing the scoreboard.
You are Steve Bartman. It is 2003 and you have the opportunity to see the
Cubs play in the postseason at Wrigley Field and potentially close out the
NLCS making your way to the World Series. However, you are warned that it
is guaranteed that either you will become one of the most hated Cubs fans in
history, OR you will see them make it to their first World Series in
forever. 50-50 shot. Do you attend the game?
I stay home and listen to Pat and Ron seeing as how I’m going to wear those
stupid-looking headphones anyway.
You’re hired to run the Cubs 2010 public relations campaign. You can use
any slogan, player, etc that you want to. What is your advertising
campaign/slogan for the 2010 season?
Admittedly, maybe its the lack of Cubs in this years playoffs…but I haven’t seen anything to get excited about. Normally the playoffs are extremely addictive and I love watching every minute regardless of who is playing. This year however, I haven’t seen anything to get all that excited about.
And not in a good “family game night” kind of way either.
These videos come off of ESPN.com and its great to hear thoughts of that amazing Cubs year from someone smack in the middle of the whirlwind of reasons as to why it all happened the way it did. Something that would be great for Bradley to hear now too…maybe if he hears enough former and current Cubs talk about how lucky he is to be a Cub, maybe it will help him realize what he has if ends up staying or what he had if Hendry finds a taker this off-season.
The domino effect of events that had to happen in 1984, to end the way it did and claim the title that they did is a pretty amazing story. One that almost lets Hendry completely off the hook when it comes to the Bradley signing. I have taken him off the hook completely and feel confident in Hendry making the deals in the off-season to see if it makes the difference in 2010. No one thought the moves the Cubs made would put them over the top and back into the playoffs. But they did. And trades and signings that the organization and fans get excited over, ones that they have high hopes for can just as easily surprise and disappoint. The 1984 Cubs had a young, all-star caliber talent in Ryne Sandberg and a bunch of guys that no one saw coming. It all just kind of fit just right and put the Cubs in the playoffs.
Sure, we all want the Series title…aiming to make the playoffs is never the ultimate goal, simply the first necessary step to get there. But imagine if we were celebrating and enjoying a team like this today. I don’t think any one of us would complain about that. Happy 25th anniversary 1984 Cubs. May you be one highlighted season among those that eventually, hopefully shortly, get us to the ultimate prize. Go Cubs Go!